New from the Babbel User Portraits Series – snapshots of their lives and their reasons for learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story with us, leave a comment. This time, we’re learning about Eckart and Vincenzo’s German-Italian love story.
“About two years ago, my life changed completely – it all started with a simple ‘hi’ on a dating website, and that’s how I met Vincenzo. He was living in Sicily at the time and I was living in Düsseldorf, so at first we only spoke on WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, etc. Day by day, we got to know each other a little better. Luckily, Vincenzo speaks very good English and since I understand English, at least at a passable level, we could communicate. At the time I didn’t speak any Italian and he didn’t speak any German.
After a while, he invited me to visit him in Sicily for two weeks. To be quite honest, I first had a lot of respect, and second a bit of fear to accept. Not because I thought I would visit a complete stranger and run the risk of the entire trip ending in total disaster – but because I already knew that I would fall head over heels for Vincenzo and after two weeks would be forced to go back to Germany, alone. But ‘Vincy’ stuck to his guns and I accepted his invitation. What did I have to lose?!
I’ll never forget the moment – after a long and impatient wait for my bag at the airport in Catania – I saw him for the first time. What a wonderful person! After a short but heartfelt welcome, he grabbed my bag and we left the terminal in the direction of the bus stop. From that moment on, we spent two wonderful weeks together. We didn’t do too much, but I had the chance to meet his friends. We lay next to each other for hours listening to music, talking or just being silent and enjoying the time with each other. As I mentioned, I couldn’t speak any Italian at the time and when two people always have to speak to one another in a foreign language, it can get a little frustrating.
The two weeks with Vincenzo were beautiful and unfortunately went by way too fast. But one day before I had to leave, we were both sure that we didn’t want to be apart and just go back our everyday lives. Spontaneously, we booked the next available flight to Düsseldorf for him, which meant that Vincy actually landed there a few hours before me.
And then everything went really fast! Because just about three weeks later, we were sitting next to each other in a car making the 2,300 kilometer journey from Düsseldorf to Siciliy in order to pick up his things and his beloved ferrets. And no one can say that we didn’t use the long trip wisely, because while we were en route, Vincy sublet his apartment, sold his television and told his initially-not-too-thrilled parents that he was moving to Düsseldorf to be with me – all that on his telephone!
That was one-and-a-half years ago and we’ve been living very, very happily with one another ever since. Sometimes we’ll have a huge fight, because now and then you can really feel the cultural difference between North Rhine-Westphalia and southern Italy. But we always find a way to move forward together.
I also started learning Italian – for one, to be able to speak to him in his mother tongue, but also to be able to communicate with his parents, siblings and friends, who we often visit in Sicily. For that, Babbel’s been a great help. Admittedly, even after a year of learning, I’m still very far from being able to speak fluently. But for small talk and, most importantly, in order to understand more and more of what I hear, it’s definitely enough. I still have a ways to go though, and can’t stop being diligent at practicing with the Babbel app. After all, we’re going to Sicily for three weeks again in August and I absolutely want to have improved by then!
In the meantime, Vincy took an intensive German course and is getting his Abitur from an Italian high school in Cologne. His German is already outstanding and little by little we’re using less English when we talk. Often, our conversations are a hilarious mishmash of English, German, and Italian.
I still have so much respect for Vincy’s brave step to just pack up and come to Germany, and at the same time, I have so much gratitude for it. He feels quite good here in Düsseldorf. The only thing that’s hard for him is the weather. But soon we’ll be in Sicily again and can enjoy the sun and Vincy’s beloved sea.”